Maintaining a consistent, warm barn climate just got easier for hog producers with Automated Production’s VariFlame heater. Brian Rieck, AP product manager, says, “The variable-rate heater is engineered for longevity, performance and ease of maintenance.”
The VariFlame comes in two models: The standard on/off model and EDGE Connect. The traditional standard on/off model allows various output levels to be verified and set with a simple handle adjustment. VariFlame with EDGE Connect can be operated in four different modes, including remote connectivity.
Available in all models
AP built the VariFlame to be durable and corrosion-resistant, increasing its lifespan, which is good news for hog producers. The heaters are available in stainless steel or in red-and-black painted, galvanized metal with aluminized internal components. Also, all models come with a water- and dust-tight control box.
One improved feature on the VariFlame models is the burner performance. Rieck says, “The in-line burner gives the flexibility to go from 50,000 to 250,000 BTUs, something we could never do in the past with the cup-style burners like our Super-Saver models.”
The variable heaters come with an easy-to-handle igniter made from silicon nitride, a material that can withstand high temperatures. Rieck says the durable igniter means the hog producer will spend less money and time on replacing it in comparison to the silicon carbide versions.
The New Product Tour panel praised the VariFlame for its easy maintenance features. According to AP, the heater is the only one on the market with a single door that is easy to remove by pulling two pins. One single ¼-inch nut driver is the only tool needed to service any part of the heater.
VariFlame with EDGE Connect is “the bomb” of variable heaters for the swine industry. The EDGE controller was introduced last year by AP and was the highlight of last year’s New Products Tour. As AP’s most exclusive model, this first modulating heater works with any control system. Its cutting-edge technology seamlessly performs in four different modes.
■ Stand-alone mode. No controller is needed.
■ Legacy mode. The on/off signal from AP’s or any other brand’s legacy controller operates the heater.
■ Series II mode. A controller with modular heat logic built in can control the modulating output.
■ EDGE Connect. This includes modulating heat, remote setting and diagnostics, stir fan mode, exercise mode, EDGE probes, active alarm alerts and troubleshooting.
Pairing the VariFlame with the EDGE control system takes the variable-heating game to a whole other level — something that caught the attention of the panel members. The remote connectivity allows hog producers to control all the heaters from one controller. The remote access also gives the operator the ability to access diagnostics and adjust barn settings from desktop, smartphone or tablet. In addition, EDGE Connect comes with other options like the ability to circulate the air through the heater without turning on the burner and to schedule regular “exercise” sessions. EDGE system temperature probes also come with the EDGE Connect, giving hog producers the flexibility to control curtains, fans and other equipment along with running the heater.
All panel members agree that VariFlame is a serious variable-rate heater option for hog producers with its multi-mode function, fitting any size swine operation. Aaron Lower, veterinarian and panel member, adds, “I like the fact that it really has three applications. If you have just the bare bones with only a thermostat, it will run. If you have a controller, it will do the variable, and if you have the EDGE controller, you can really maximize the system.”
The construction and the ability to complete maintenance with one tool was a huge plus for hog producer and panel member Dale Stevermer.
Compared to the standard on/off model, the EDGE Connect VariFlame is not more efficient, especially in a well-managed system, admits Rieck openly. However, if the heater is too big for the space, then the VariFlame will be a money saver. Overall, he says, from a design standpoint the VariFlame is not more efficient, but from a management aspect it will manage itself effectively, running more efficiently on gas. Panel member Joseph Zulovich says, “The big thing is you are not going to have the temperature overrun that you typically have with a big, honker heater in a small room.”
Basically, AP has improved the unvented propane heater, fixing common problems across the different brands. Visit automatedproduction.com for more information.